Expert witnesses are witnesses who are permitted to testify because they possess highly specialized knowledge in a field that is relevant to the personal injury case at hand. They play a critical role in court proceedings, but many people do not understand how very important they are to personal injury lawsuits.
Personal injury cases involve physical or psychological harm caused by another person’s actions that could be classified as reckless, negligent, careless, or intentional. Expert witnesses are often key to winning them.
Why Expert Witnesses are Important
In a personal injury case, it is the responsibility of the plaintiff to prove that the accident caused the injuries in question; the job of the defense is to cast doubt on the prosecution’s evidence. Expert witnesses help juries to understand facts that can easily be clouded by emotion or intentional misrepresentation.
Expert witnesses can serve many purposes during a trial:
- Refute inaccurate testimony
- Provide expert opinions on topics related to their specialty
- Testify to key facts in a case
- Provide interpretation of facts
In some personal injury cases, the testimony of an expert witness may be required before the case can even be brought to trial. Expert witnesses are vital to settling issues as to who is truly at fault and how much damage (physical, emotional, and financial) may have been done. Most personal injury cases involve a variety of expert witnesses to establish what happened, who was at fault, and what impact it had on the plaintiff.
Accident Reconstruction Specialist
An accident reconstruction specialist can provide informative testimony regarding the conditions that contributed to an automobile accident and what speeds or actions (such as breaking or swerving) were involved. They can also testify about issues related to safety and crash-worthiness, as well as who was truly at fault in an accident. Their testimony is based on principles of physics and engineering as well as the facts of the case.
The term “first responders” usually refers to the emergency personnel that are the first to arrive at the site of an accident and includes firefighters, police officers, and EMTs. In court, they can provide testimony related to their job experience and present opinions based on what they saw combined with their knowledge of previous incidents.
The job of medical doctors as expert witnesses includes assessing an injured party’s physical condition, recommending or commenting on appropriate care, and providing an overview or opinion of an individual’s medical history. Doctors can also clarify medical questions and discuss a plaintiff’s medical history before and after the accident.
Medical examiners are often called to court in wrongful death lawsuits. Their job is to evaluate the cause of death. Their expert testimony can be very important in establishing how someone died and whether it could have been prevented.
Medical Examiners provide opinions and commentary on a person’s medical condition when they died as well as details on the exact cause of death.
When a case involves medical malpractice, drug use, drug interactions, or possible poisoning, it is not uncommon for a forensic toxicologist to be called in to testify; sometimes a panel of forensic toxicologists may be used. A forensic toxicologist can provide testimony regarding what chemicals are (or were) present in a person’s body at the time of the incident and what type of interactions may have been taking place.
Phone records are often used as evidence in cases involving car accidents. Phone records can be used to establish whether someone was using their phone to text or make a call when the accident occurred, which can aid in proving who was liable. Phone records can make or break such cases.
Life Care Planner
Life care planners can provide very important testimony in a personal litigation trial. Topics such as the cost of future care, issues related to disability management, potential earning capacity, life expectancy, and estimating loss of income are just a few of the issues involved when a life care planner acts as an expert witness.
In a nutshell, life care planners establish what a person’s actual needs are after an accident and how those needs changed as a result of that accident.
The Defendant’s Expert Witnesses
Expert witnesses are very important when the defense is attempting to discredit the plaintiff’s claims regarding injury or liability. It is not uncommon for the defense to hire their own team of expert witnesses to refute the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witnesses. This is why it is so important for legal team to establish strong relationships with expert witnesses that have good reputations, excellent knowledge, and outstanding communication skills.
Personal Injury Lawyers with Experience Using Expert Witnesses
If you or someone you love has been involved in a personal injury accident in Pennsylvania, give Donaghue & Labrum a call today. You can have peace of mind knowing that we will aggressively pursue your case and employ the best expert witnesses to establish the facts involved.
With our experience on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants, we can bring a unique perspective to your case and help you get the compensation that you deserve. We specialize in personal injury lawsuits, including car accidents, medical malpractice, truck accidents, workplace injuries, dog bites, slips or falls, and nursing home abuse.